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Archive: September 2017

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Senate Will Not Vote on Graham-Cassidy, Will Move to Tax Reform

September 28, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) announced that the Senate would not be voting on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill before September 30. This news came after a GOP-only lunch where it was clear the bill did not have the 50 needed votes to secure passage. Senators Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ) and Rand Paul (KY) all came out against the bill earlier this week. In a press conference following the announcement, Leader McConnell said the chamber will now shift its focus to tax reform.

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National Council to Co-Host Congressional Briefing on Opioid Epidemic and Medicaid

September 28, 2017 | Medicaid | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

On Tuesday October 3rd, the National Council will co-host a congressional staff briefing in conjunction with Hill Day 2017. The briefing – sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – will highlight the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation and Peg’s Foundation’s  Spring Paper Series: a series of research papers focusing on critical topics like the nation’s opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform and Medicaid behavioral health policies.

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Senate Bill Aims to Change Patients’ SUD Record Sharing

September 28, 2017 | Addictions | Privacy & HIPAA | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

On Monday, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S.1850). This bill would alter the way substance use treatment records are shared among providers, further aligning the privacy rules and protections with those outlined in HIPAA. The bill closely mirrors legislation introduced in the House earlier this summer by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA).

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Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Holds Discussion on Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Monday, September 25th, the Congressional Bipartisan Heroin Task Force held a roundtable discussion on the role of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) in combatting the opioid epidemic. The roundtable — led by task force co-chairs Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) — received insights from two industry professionals on the importance of PDMPs.

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ONDCP Announces $89 Million in Awards for Drug-Free Communities

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last week, the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the award of $89 million to the Drug-Free Communities Program (DFC). This award will support 719 community-based drug-prevention coalitions, making it the largest number of single-year grant awardees since the program’s founding in 1997.

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Opioid Commission Report Delayed, New Pharmaceuticals Partnerships Formed

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis made news this week with a series of important announcements. First, Commission Chairman Governor Chris Christie announced the commission’s final report would be delayed by one month, pushing the release date to November 1st. Second, he announced a public-private partnership between pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop non-addictive pain treatment therapies.

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GOP Health Care Bill Marches Forward in Senate

September 21, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

The latest plan from the GOP to cap Medicaid and cut expansion is moving in the Senate with a committee hearing and a floor vote by the end of next week. The bill – authored by Senators Graham (R-SC), Cassidy (R-LA), Heller (R-NV) and Johnson (R-WI) – would turn critical federal funding for Medicaid into per capita caps or block grants for states, leaving cash-strapped states with fewer resources for critical care like mental health and addiction services.

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SAMHSA, HRSA Announce Awards for Prevention, Treatment of Opioid Addiction, SMI

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a series of awards totaling nearly $350 million to fund increased access to mental health and addiction services. One cohort of awards supports efforts combat the nation’s opioid addiction crisis, funding local and state organizations. The second cohort supports increased access to mental health and substance use services at federally qualified health centers. Funds for these grants were authorized in part by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

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Senate Committee Completes Bipartisan Hearings on Health Care

September 21, 2017 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its final bipartisan hearing on efforts to stabilize the individual health insurance market. The committee heard testimony from provider, state and insurer stakeholders on stabilizing premiums and helping people in the individual insurance market. Despite these efforts, it was announced this week by Committee Chairman Alexander that bipartisan efforts had stalled and no further negotiations would take place.

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Bipartisan Task Force Launched to Address Suicide Prevention

September 21, 2017 | Uncategorized | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Don Beyer (D-VA) announced last week the formation of a new bipartisan House Suicide Prevention Task Force, a new subset of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. The task force will work to create bipartisan solutions to help curb and combat the high rate of suicide in America. The National Council thanks these leaders for their service and commitment to this important cause.

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October 1 Deadline to Attest for Medicare EHR

Elizabeth Arend

Quality Improvement Advisor

Mark your calendars: all eligible professionals (EPs) who are first time participants in the Medicare electronic health records (EHR) incentive program must attest by October 1, 2017 to avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2018.  EPs who do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use for the 2017 reporting period will receive reduced Medicare payments for that year.

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New GOP Health Care Plan Caps Medicaid, Cuts Expansion

September 14, 2017 | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Four GOP Senators have introduced the latest iteration of health care legislation in the Senate. The bill, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) revives some of the most troubling elements of previous health care bills, including undermining the Medicaid expansion and imposing a per-capita cap on federal Medicaid funding. The National Council opposes this legislation as it harms Americans in need of comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment services.

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Senate Finance Committee Leaders Agree to Five-Year CHIP Extension

September 14, 2017 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments

Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

With funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) nearing its expiration at the end of September, Senate Finance Committee leaders have announced a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize funding for the program for five years. Formal legislation has not yet been released, but Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) have committed to help move the proposal through Congress this month. An identical proposal must also pass the House and be signed by President Trump.

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Congress Faces Sept. 30th Deadline to Pass Health Reform

September 7, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Senate Parliamentarian ruled last week that the special budgeting rules under which Congress has tried to pass health care legislation will expire at the end of the fiscal year, September 30. This is the latest win for advocates working to protect the Affordable Care Act and preserve Medicaid as it currently exists. President Trump, with Congress back in session this week, is reportedly urging one more try at passing health care legislation.

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White House, Congressional Leaders Agree to Raise Debt Ceiling, Fund Government into December

September 7, 2017 | Federal Budget | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, it was announced that President Trump and congressional leaders had come to an agreement on some of Capitol Hill’s most pressing issues including government funding, raising the debt ceiling and approving emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey relief. The deal will extend level funding of the federal government and an increase in the national debt ceiling through December 15. The mechanism will also allocate nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds.

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President Trump Taps Rep. Tom Marino to Run ONDCP

September 7, 2017 | Addictions | Comments

Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

President Trump will nominate Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) of the Pennsylvania 10th district to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Rep. Marino – who previously withdrew from consideration for the office in May – has served in Congress since 2010 and was one of the earliest Republican lawmakers to endorse President Trump as a candidate in 2016. The appointment to this position is contingent upon Senate confirmation.

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Governors Send Letter to Congressional Leadership Recommending Health Insurance Reform

September 7, 2017 | Health Insurance Exchanges | Comments

Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Late last month, Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Kasich (R-OH) led a bipartisan letter to Senate and House leadership recommending changes to improve affordability and restore stability to the individual health insurance market. Additional signers included Governors from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Virginia, Louisiana, and Montana. The letter specifically noted the importance of ensuring access to care for those with mental illness and addiction.

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